by Katie E. Happy Bastille Day everyone! This weekend was incredible! I learned so much more about Aix and got to practice my French listening skills during our guided tour of the city. The tour guide talked about how women would use their fans to indicate different things about themselves, like if they were engaged or not for example. He also went into great detail about the famous and important people who have lived here, pointing out their residences and explaining what those buildings are used for today. Saturday was probably my favorite weekend excursion so far. We went kayaking at the Gorge du Verdon which had beautiful turquoise water and towering limestone walls surrounding it. Enjoying that excursion was really surprising to me, as I am not normally a very outdoorsy person. I am more likely to stay home and watch a movie than go out for a hiking trip, which is why I am so amazed I was able to get so much out of kayaking,. I definitely see what I’ve been missing out on when I opt to stay in. My favorite part of it though was being able to take in some of France’s natural beauty rather than just the old man-made buildings (which I love looking at as well). Sunday I got to see Marseilles, a much bigger city with a lot more going on. We walked around just a little and got to see cathedrals and forts made over 2,000 years ago. Then we took a ferry to the L’archipel du Frioul, a group of islands that are right off of Marseilles’s coast. We spent a few hours on the very, very small yet impressive beach then decided to head back to Aix for dinner. Monday was what will probably become my favorite day of this entire trip, Bastille Day. The French national holiday is of course a huge deal here and I was lucky enough to witness it. We learned about the history of the Bastille in the morning and got to experience the fireworks and dancing during the night. The feu d’artifices were set to classical music that successfully amazed everyone–the Aixois and tourists alike. The ball directly after was just as impressive and the most fun I’ve had so far. There was street dancing, cotton candy, and an unexpected amount of American 70’s music. To recover from last night we had a free morning, not having anything scheduled until two in the afternoon. We got to go to an art museum that featured Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, and of course Cezanne, Aix’s most famous artist, among many others. Tonight was spent at a night market in the city that sold everything from handbags to lavender scented soaps, all good things for souvenirs.
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